U.S. Officials Can’t Ask Syrian Refugees Key Questions

Photo Sadik Gulec / Shutterstock.com

Photo Sadik Gulec / Shutterstock.com

The Obama administration appears to have taken yet another terrorism-fighting tool away from U.S. law enforcement trying to screen Syrian refugees.

The Federalist, by Kyle Shideler, Nov. 23, 2015:

U.S. law enforcement officials involved in screening Syrian refugees are forbidden from asking key questions about individuals’ religious affiliations or beliefs based on policy guidance created by the Obama administration, according to a recent report published at The Daily Caller.

The piece notes that both Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) policies have increasingly restricted the ability of law enforcement to query individuals about their religious behaviors or associations.

“These gradual but severe restrictions were coupled with a simultaneous reduction in accurate, fact-based training to address the nature of the threat we face, leaving us inadequately prepared for the challenges we face today,” The Daily Caller cites a “government source familiar with national security” as saying.

That means DHS officers screening for Syrian refugees are likely prohibited from asking questions like, “Are you a member or supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood or Tablighi Jamaat?”

These Are Dangerous Buddies to Have

The Muslim Brotherhood is the oldest global Islamist group in the world. Muslim Brotherhood thinkers formed the core ideology of al-Qaeda, and former FBI Director Robert Mueller testified in 2011 that “elements of the Muslim Brotherhood both here and overseas have supported terrorism.” Tablighi Jamaat is an Islamic proselyting group that al-Qaeda has used as a cover to facilitate moving across borders, and which U.S. intelligence has described as “willingly supporting terrorists.”

A 2005 report on the Pakistan-based group noted:

Tablighi Jamaat has also facilitated other terrorists’ missions. The group has provided logistical support and helped procure travel documents. Many take advantage of Tablighi Jamaat’s benign reputation. Moroccan authorities say that leaflets circulated by the terrorist group Al-Salafiyah al-Jihadiyah urged their members to join Islamic organizations that operate openly, such as Tablighi Jamaat, in order ‘to hide their identity on the one hand and influence these groups and their policies on the other.’

It would also prohibit law enforcement from asking key questions about how an individual views jihadist ideologues, such as Anwar Awlaki, Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, or Yusuf al Qaradawi. That’s vital when such jihadi scholars have played roles in influencing terror attacks.

For example, support and admiration for Awlaki was key to terror cases including the Christmas Day underwear bomber, the Fort Hood shooter,the Charlie Hebdo killers, and the more recent Chattanooga Recruiting Center shooter.

Yet during an investigation into Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hassan before his attack, the FBI described email correspondence from Hassan to Awlaki as “not pertinent” to the investigation.

Islamist Sympathizers Place Pressure

In 2011, the Civil Rights Civil Liberties division of DHS launched an investigation into multiple Customs and Border Protection agents, because of complaints by groups like Hamas-linked Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR) that agents were asking individuals questions about their affiliation with Islamic organizations (including those linked to the Muslim Brotherhood), or attendance at conferences where pro-jihadist ideologues are known to have spoken.

One officer was being investigated because he had asked for an individual’s view of Anwar al-Awlaki.

According to DHS authorities, one officer was being investigated because he had asked for an individual’s view of Anwar al-Awlaki. In another, FBI agents referenced the underwear bombing plot. Even that much was considered offensive.

The CRCL investigation was motivated by pressure from the American Civil Liberties Union, CAIR, and Muslim Advocates, a group closely linked with U.S. Muslim Brotherhood groups and with a long history of opposing U.S. counterterrorism efforts.

In response to lawsuits related to the issue of questioning by CBP officers, the DHS established a “hands-off” list of known individuals with terror ties,which included Muslim Brotherhood leader Jamal Badawi, an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation Hamas finance trial. These individuals were given a green light to enter the country, and were not to be referred to secondary questioning. Sen. Chuck Grassley investigated the matter in 2014, calling it “disturbing.”

If U.S. law enforcement agents are no longer able to question individuals who are already known to have terror affiliations about their ideological views or the organizations with which they associate, how much more pressure will there be to avoid pertinent questions to Syrian refugees, a hot-button issue upon which the Obama administration has taken a strong public position?

Kyle Shideler is the director of the Threat Information Office at the Center for Security Policy. Kyle has worked for several organizations involved with Middle East and terrorism policy since 2006. He is a contributing author to “Saudi Arabia and the Global Islamic Terrorist Network: America and the West’s Fatal Embrace,” and has written for numerous publications and briefed legislative aides, intelligence, and law enforcement officials and the general public on national security issues.
Also see:

Refugees , immigration and terror in the U.S.

U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions speaks at the 2012 Washington Update Luncheon Wed., Oct. 24 at the Von Braun Center. (Sarah Cole/al.com)

U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions speaks at the 2012 Washington Update Luncheon Wed., Oct. 24 at the Von Braun Center. (Sarah Cole/al.com)

Cultural Jihad, Nov. 21, 2015:

In the wake of the [2013] Kentucky case, the U.S. halted the refugee program for Iraqis for six months, a fact the Obama administration did not disclose to Congress at the time, officials told ABC News in the 2013 investigation.
ABC News Report

The current debate over the admission of Syrian refugees focuses on the possibility that it will help facilitate the entry of terrorists into the U.S.

This view is based on the growing trend of Islamist immigrants in the U.S. that have been involved in terrorism in the last few years.  The U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and Natural Interest reports that it has identified at least 26 foreign-born individuals inside the U.S. who have either been charged with or convicted of terrorism in the last year with even more examples going back to 2013.  From an AL.com article by Leada Gore:

Sessions said U.S. officials have no access to Syrian government data to vet refugees and no capacity to predict whether those seeking refuge are likely to join militant groups. As proof of that, the  Immigration Subcommittee, which Sessions chairs, provided a partial list of apprehended foreign-born terrorists or terror suspects since 2013:

Sessions said these incidents are just a few of those identified by his committee. They should serve as a warning against any plan for relocation of immigrants, especially those from Syria, he added.

The concerns have not been limited to the GOP.   Several days ago, 47 House Democrats broke rank and joined with Republicans, voting for a bill aimed at pausing admittance of Syrian and Iraqi refugees by adding requirements to an already lengthy screening process.   In the Senate, the Washington Post reported:

Longtime Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the Senate intelligence committee, warned in a statement Tuesday “we need to be very careful about Syrian refugee admissions.”

The Hill reports that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) signed a letter to President Obama calling on him to not allow any more Syrians into the country “unless federal authorities can guarantee with 100 percent assurance they are not connected” to the Islamic State.

At least one Democratic was among the governors asking for the resettlement of Syrian refugees to stop until security concerns can be addressed.

UN records show a four fold increase (850,000) so far in 2015 of refugees entering Europe through the Mediterranean area compared to 2014 (216,000) with Syrians accounting for about 52% of the numbers.  From the trend, the numbers will most likely be significantly higher by the end of 2015. While the vast majority will most likely settle in Europe, U.S. allocations have been steadily increasing.

We noted last year in “Resettlement: an Islamist path to the west?,  that according to U.S. Department of State refugee statistics, in 2007 Muslim countries accounted for about 20% of U.S. refugee admissions.  In 2008 there was a marked increase, with well over 50% (35,000+) of refugee admissions coming from predominately Muslim countries.  This repeated in 2009-2013 and the  2014 allocations authorize the increased level.  For 2015, 12,000-15,000 Syrians alone, are projected for admission.

The Paris bombings raised the possibility that forged Syrian passports are being used by terrorists and this certainly brings up concerns as to the actual identify of those being processed as Syrian refugees.   Earlier this week Bloomberg reported:

A Syrian passport found next to a suicide bomber in the Paris terror attacks may have been planted, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said.

Reports that the identity in the passport may have been registered in several countries along the so-called Balkan route raise the suspicion that it could be a deliberate attempt to implicate refugees and “make people feel unsafe,” de Maiziere said.

“There are indications that this was a planted lead, but it still can’t be ruled out that this was indeed an IS terrorist posing as a refugee,” he told reporters in Berlin on Tuesday, referring to Islamic State, which France blames for organizing the violence.

Any link between France’s worst terror attack since World War II and Europe’s refugee crisis would raise the stakes for Chancellor Angela Merkel as she defends her open-door policy for asylum seekers in Germany’s debate over immigration and security.

Syrian refugee proponents are proclaiming  there has not been one terrorist act by a refugee in the United States.  When presented with the case of the Boston Bombers, these proponents counter that the Tsarnaev brothers were not really refugees.

An example of this can be found in a recent article on Reason.com that attempts to label GOP politicians as “Fearmongers”.  Ronald Bailey writes:

Note: Several commenters suggested Tamerlan and Dzhokar Tsarnaev, who committed the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, were refugees. Strictly speaking, they were the children of asylees. As Bloomberg News explained the two were given “derivative asylum status” and didn’t come through the refugee admissions program. Apparently the legal distinction is too fine a point for some readers. So be it, but they should nevertheless keep in mind that the brothers were two people out around 1.8 million people who were granted refugee or asylee status between 1995 and 2013.

This dismissal conflicts with a recent Dailymail.com article that notes:

Six Bosnian immigrants, three from Missouri, two from Illinois and one from New York, were charged in February with sending money and military equipment to extremist groups in Syria including ISIS and the Al Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front.

Last year we reported on the case  of Bosnian refugee Edin Sakoc, 54, of Burlington, VT (a naturalized U.S. citizen) who was facing charges of lying to immigration authorities about his involvement in war crimes as well as bribery.

In 2013, an ABC news report detailed the 2009 discovery of two al Qaeda-Iraq terrorists living as refugees in Bowling Green, Kentucky — who later admitted in court that they’d attacked U.S. soldiers in Iraq:

An intelligence tip initially led the FBI to Waad Ramadan Alwan, 32, in 2009. The Iraqi had claimed to be a refugee who faced persecution back home — a story that shattered when the FBI found his fingerprints on a cordless phone base that U.S. soldiers dug up in a gravel pile south of Bayji, Iraq on Sept. 1, 2005. The phone base had been wired to unexploded bombs buried in a nearby road.

An ABC News investigation of the flawed U.S. refugee screening system, which was overhauled two years ago, showed that Alwan was mistakenly allowed into the U.S. and resettled in the leafy southern town of Bowling Green, Kentucky, a city of 60,000 which is home to Western Kentucky University and near the Army’s Fort Knox and Fort Campbell. Alwan and another Iraqi refugee, Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, 26, were resettled in Bowling Green even though both had been detained during the war by Iraqi authorities, according to federal prosecutors.

This week, ABC reported that, “Of the 31 states that have declared their opposition to taking in Syrian refugees, one state, Kentucky, has a specific reason to be wary of the background check process.”  This caused the U.S. to  halt the refugee program for Iraqis for six months, a fact the Obama administration did not disclose to Congress at the time.


Sessions: Admin Hides Immigration Histories Of Terrorists, Then Asks For Blank Resettlement Check:


Terrorist paradise: Counterterrorism expert says we can’t vet refugees

Also see:

President Obama’s Cynical Refugee Ploy

The American Interest, by WALTER RUSSELL MEAD, Nov. 17, 2015:

The debate we are having over the acceptance of Syrian refugees is not the conversation the country needs.

The governors of 26 U.S. states signaled yesterday that they will not be willing to take in any Syrian refugees, following the lead of Michigan and Alabama, which announced similar objections this past Sunday. Governor Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire became the first Democrat to voice opposition to President Obama’s plan to accept 10,000 refugees from the war in Syria in the next year. Governors of Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, and Connecticut, on the other hand, came out in explicit support of the initiative.

Goodhearted liberals have reacted with handwringing to the avalanche of dissenting governors. Some have earnestly quoted relevant Bible verses about taking in the poor and the afflicted, while the usual righteous tut-tutters have engaged in their usual righteous tut-tutting. “Everybody who disagrees with my proposal is a bitter-clinging xenophobe, not to mention a racist,” is the clear implication of the President’s supporters.

That there are racist xenophobes in this country is clear to anybody who has ever perused the comments section of an internet news site, or has spent too much time on Facebook and Twitter. And many of these people are spewing ugly hate about Syrian refugees in ways that appall—or should appall—anybody with an open mind and a humane spirit. That said, the refugee issue is not, despite President Obama’s rhetoric, a simple morality play featuring Wise Liberals and Racist Jacksonians. It is something more complicated and, at least as far as President Obama’s own role in the debate, a bit uglier.
To see the full cynicism of the Obama approach to the refugee issue, one has only to ask President Obama’s least favorite question: Why is there a Syrian refugee crisis in the first place?
Obama’s own policy decisions—allowing Assad to convert peaceful demonstrations into an increasingly ugly civil war, refusing to declare safe havens and no fly zones—were instrumental in creating the Syrian refugee crisis. This crisis is in large part the direct consequence of President Obama’s decision to stand aside and watch Syria burn. For him to try and use a derisory and symbolic program to allow 10,000 refugees into the United States in order to posture as more caring than those evil Jacksonian rednecks out in the benighted sticks is one of the most cynical, cold-blooded, and nastily divisive moves an American President has made in a long time.
Moreover, many of those “benighted” people were willing to sign up for the U.S. military and go to fight ISIS in Syria to protect the refugees. Many Americans who now oppose the President’s ill-considered refugee program have long supported the use of American power to create “safe zones” in Syria so the refugees could be sheltered and fed in their own country. If President Obama seriously cared about the fate of Syria’s millions of displaced people, he would have started to organize those safe havens years ago. And if he understood the nature of America’s role in Europe, he would have known that working with the Europeans to prevent a mass refugee and humanitarian disaster was something that had to be done.
Also see:

The Refugee Resettlement Process is Already Discriminatory

obama-600x315Center for Security Policy, by Kyle Shideler, Nov. 17, 2015:

President Obama made headlines today in reaction to a question from the press regarding the possibility of taking in Syrian Christian and other religious minorities ahead or in place of Syrian Muslims (Syria is majority Sunni Muslim.) The President responded aggressively claiming such a policy was, “… not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.”

The reality however is that the Refugee Resettlement system already has “a religious test of their compassion”, to quote the president. And that’s a test which actively disfavors Christians, according to figures released by the State Department:

Of 2,184 Syrian refugees admitted into the U.S. since the Syrian civil war erupted in 2011, only 53 (2.4 percent) have been Christians while 2098 (or 96 percent) have been Muslims, according to State Department statistics updated on Monday. The remaining 33 include 1 Yazidi, 8 Jehovah Witnesses, 2 Baha’i, 6 Zoroastrians, 6 of “other religion,” 7 of “no religion,” and 3 atheists.

The CIA Factbook for Syria gives the stated percentage of Christians in Syria at 10%. Estimates by Christian aid groups have suggested between half a million and 700,000 Syrian Christians have fled the country, making them between 16% to 23% of the estimated 3 million Syrian refugees who have fled the country. This seems reasonable, given that Christian groups in the Middle East face aggressive discrimination from a wide variety of the factions fighting across the Middle East, including especially the Islamic State, and so could reasonably be conceived to make up a disproportionate percentage of refugees.

So depending on calculation method Christian refugees could fairly be between 10% to 23% of the total refugee flow from Syria, ignoring any other questions of preference such as propensity to support groups like Islamic State.

But they are only 2.4%. That is heavily suggestive that there is a systematic bias against Christian refugees within the system.

One of the elements at play is the fact that for the most part, the United States does not get to select its own refugees. As Nina Shea highlights at National Review, The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is typically the deciding agency, and recommends to the United States which refugees will be resettled. So the selection process hits several snags. Firstly, Christian refugees almost overwhelmingly avoid United Nations refugee camps out of legitimate fears of possible violence against them.Reports of attacks on Christians refugees by their Muslim counterparts have been reported, such as when Christian refugees on a boat in the Mediterranean were thrown overboard, and German police have openly urged publicly separating Christian and Muslim refugees, due to attacks. In one case a Christian convert was beaten unconscious by a metal baton.

Secondly, the United Nations itself is strongly beholden to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), it’s largest voting bloc, which has its own views on the refugee situation that are unlikely to conform with U.S. interests and equally unlikely to favor Christians, given that at the OIC’s home headquarters, in Saudi Arabia, the practice of Christianity is itself largely illegal.

Thirdly, and perhaps most largely problematic, is the appearance of overt anti-Christian bias by the State Department itself. As good friend of the Center, Institute for Religion and Democracy’s Faith McDonnell notes in her recent piece on the state of Christian refugees, the State Department has explicitly declared they, “would not support a special category to bring Assyrian Christians into the United States,” in response to a plan by a private aid group to fund, entirely free of taxpayer dollars, the transport of Assyrian Christians facing extermination by Islamic State.

In other words, even when its free, no cost to them, the State Department has preferred to snubbed Christians rather than save them.

So it’s true that there is a “religious test” for refugee admittance into the United States, but it is a deck stacked against Christians, not for them. President Obama is treating efforts to address this ongoing discrimination as if it, and not the original policy, is based in bias.

It is highly disingenuous that the President is treating any criticism of a discriminatory system of resettlement as itself discriminatory, in order to shut up debate about the plight of Middle Eastern Christians.

ISIS External OPs and Paris Attack UPDATE as of 16 NOV 15

The ISIS Study Group, Nov. 16, 2015:

By now the people of the world should’ve heard from the MSM about the mastermind of the Paris Attack being identified as Abdelhamid Aboud (variant-Abaaoud) aka “Abu Omar al-Belgeki.” We discussed this guy and his role in the Paris attack planning in our 14 NOV piece “Paris Attack Update as of 14 NOV 15.” If you’re new here or somehow missed our first update, Aboud played a big role in coordinating the movement of the 20-man foreign fighter group that was redeployed to Europe to specifically target France and the UK (which was discussed in last month’s “Nail in the Coffin: ISIS’ Anwar al-Awlaqi BN Sends Fighters to Europe“). In an interview with Dabiq Magazine, he claimed to have made several attempts to enter Europe and had finally managed to get into Belgium where he and some associates managed to establish a support network. The main support cell in Belgium was rounded up by the local police, prompting him to flee to Syria. As stated two days ago, Aboud is important because he functioned in a capacity similar to that of the late-Junaid Hussein in regards to operations in France and Belgium. More importantly, he was the right-hand of Islamic State (IS) spokesman and External Operations Portfolio chief Abu Muhammad al-Adnani. Word on the street is that Aboud may have been killed in an airstrike last month, although we’re working with our Parastin and YPG sources to ascertain the truth. Anyways, if you want to know more about this guy check out “Paris Attack Update as of 14 NOV 15.”

Mastermind of Paris Attacks Identified Amid a Night of Raids in France

Paris Attack Update as of 14 NOV 15

Nail in the Coffin: ISIS’ Anwar al-Awlaqi BN Sends Fighters to Europe

Abdelhamid Aboud Source: The ISIS Study Group

Abdelhamid Aboud
Source: The ISIS Study Group

Aboud’s Dabiq interview Source: Dabiq Magazine

Aboud’s Dabiq interview
Source: Dabiq Magazine

In our 14 NOV article we also identified one of the attackers – one of the Stade de France bombers – as Syrian national Ahmed Almuhammad. The MSM again confirmed what we said the next day. Additional reporting shows that this individual had entered Europe through Turkey and Greece posing as a “refugee” – in fact there’s three individuals total that have been confirmed as having started out in Syria. Again, this is consistent with what we said last month. The individual who had the Egyptian passport was later identified as being one of the victims. Not long after the Paris attack one of the attackers – Salah Abdesalam – was stopped in Molenbeek, Brussels. Then they released him. What the media may not be tracking is that two of his associates were also stopped and released. Our sources confirm their identities as Hamza Attou and Muhammad Amri. Its worth noting that Attou was stopped with Abdesalam (any journalist reading this can look up license plate 1 LJV 913 if they don’t believe us). The vehicle found in Paris with the weapons belonged to Attou, Amri and Abdesalam. Its also worth noting that Abdesalam was also listed as the guy who rented the vehicle that was found IVO the Bataclan Concert Hall. A raid was attempted to detain Abdesalam earlier today, but it failed. He’s likely moving between the safe-houses that Aboud’s support network had established months ago. The other attackers are as follows:

Muhammad Abdesalam – One of Salah Abdesalam’s brothers (arrested in Belgium)
Brahim Abdesalam – Another brother of Salah Abdesalam
Omar Ismail Mostefai – French national and member of the pre-existing support network who was killed at Bataclan
Bilal Hadfi – Killed at Stade de France
Four other yet to be identified attackers were killed while engaging the French National Police

The number puts them pretty close to that 10-man group we discussed last month, isn’t it? Keep in mind that these guys were also supposed to augment the existing cells in their respective target country – meaning there were likely as many as 24 jihadists involved in the overall operation (although most were in a support role). Some of our readers have inquired about how AQAP could claim responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo Attack yet have an IS-aligned support cell involved? The two sides working at the cell-level isn’t uncommon, and there have been several documented cases of such collaboration taking place in Yemen – especially when the late-Qurayshi (who was against feuding with IS) was Emir. And remember, the foreign fighter unit that IS has been selecting personnel for redeployment to Europe and North America is named after the late-senior AQAP recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki.

‘Nothing stood out’ about Paris attacker Omar Ismail Mostefai


Paris attacks: Suspect on the run as terror raids end in failure – latest news

Ahmed AlMuhammad’s passport Source: The ISIS Study Group

Ahmed AlMuhammad’s passport
Source: The ISIS Study Group

Salah Abdesalam: Offered up his brother to serve as a suicide bomber – what a guy! Source: French National Police

Salah Abdesalam: Offered up his brother to serve as a suicide bomber – what a guy!
Source: French National Police

Equally as important is the fact that the other half of that 20-man group that arrived from Syria posing as refugees is assessed to be located somewhere in London. Over the weekend we had tweeted out a tipper in regards to an IS threat that was issued against Rome, London and Washington, DC. Earlier today another IS threat was issued, this time directed at Lisbon, Portugal. IS’ External Operations Division will usually disseminate loads of disinformation designed to both distract the West from the true target and overload allied intelligence organizations with a flurry of multiple threat streams, some legit and some fake. Neil Prakash and the late-Junaid Hussein, Riyad Khan and Shawn Parson had perfected this strategy over the course of two years. Although some operations would be discovered and disrupted, others would fall through the cracks due to the large volume of threat reporting. The use of lone-wolves contributed heavily to their success. That said, the transition from relying solely on lone-wolves to attack cells adds to their ability to project IS influence beyond the borders of Syria, Iraq and Libya. Speaking of Libya, we heard there’s three IS fighters who entered Germany from Libya and are currently working to establish a new attack cell. With that and the fact there’s another 10-man element from that specialized 20-man group reported to have been sent to London leads us to suspect that location will be the next target for a major cell-based attack.

Source: The ISIS Study Group

Source: The ISIS Study Group

However, that’s just from the External Operations Division located in Syria. IS has also invested heavily in establishing an official affiliate in Libya to serve as a launching pad for conducting facilitation operations in support of other IS-aligned entities throughout Sudan, Tunisia, Algeria, Nigeria and Egypt. The Libyan IS Emir -Abu Nabil – (who may or may not have been recently killed) is an External Operations Division senior member who was dispatched to Libya to establish and lead the affiliate in the country. One of the other big things he was tasked to do was open up a second pathway from which to conduct attacks against Europe. Still, IS won’t be abandoning the use of lone-wolves. Instead, they’ll likely opt to use a combination of lone-wolves and attack cells to “reach out and touch” the West.

The Erdogan government of Turkey has been doing a lot of damage control in recent weeks and has been trying to capitalize on the situation. Reporting suggests that the Turks had “tried” to warn their French counterparts about Mostefai. The truth is although the Turks did pass along information to DGSE, they only did so because their French counterparts had specifically been inquiring about the Mostefai’s pattern of life going back and forth from Raqqa City, Syria to Gaziantep, Turkey. However, we’ll give the Turks the benefit of the doubt this time because our friends in the YPG and Parastin had reported a similar experience when they tried to warn the French, British and American governments of the 20-man group that was sent from Syria to Europe to hit targets in the UK and France. Specifically, neither the French or American intelligence agencies appeared to have been interested in what our Kurdish friends had to say; it was as if DGSE no longer cared for whatever reason. Our DGSI contact stated he “couldn’t speak for DGSE.” We don’t know about the Brits because they never gave a response to our friends.

Attacks in Paris: Live Updates From France

Then there’s the much-hyped 12 NOV arrest of Jihadi John associate Aine Leslie Davis aka “Abu Ayub,” who the Turks are making out to be “Zarqawi revisited.” The truth is not only is Jihadi John a “small fish,” Davis is straight-up low-hanging fruit. He was never involved in any external attack planning, although he did provide security for Western hostages in Syria and had his wife and female associate serve as facilitators tasked with distributing financial support to terror cells in the UK. As you may have already guessed, the Turks only arrested him because the British government had specifically inquired about him (notice the recurring theme here?). Davis was arrested with two other British nationals – Jermaine Michael Burke and Per Muhammad Burmal Karwani. Also arrested with the three Brits were Hasan al-Sheik, Turkish national Deniz Solak and Syrian national Walid al-Agha (who is confirmed to have trained in Syria). Davis had received permission from his superiors to travel from Syria to Turkey and retrieve his family. The individuals who accompanied him did so because they were tasked with picking up dual-use material for producing explosives. The reason we bring up Davis and friends is because the facilitation network they were supposed to link up with was the same one that pushed out the group that would later go on to execute the Paris attack. Oh, and btw, the Erdogan government is preparing to quietly release Davis, Burke and Karwani from custody due to a “lack of evidence” and are supposedly going to “deport” them back to the UK. What are the odds of them actually being put on a plane for the UK? We think you may already know the answer. Perhaps somebody from MI5 or MI6 reads this and has enough “wasta” to influence things?


British jihadist at the heart of terrorist network terror in Syria and Iraq

From petty criminal and feckless father to jihadist: Briton’s journey from London estate to an Isis fighter – and how it ensnared ‘jihottie’ who smuggled cash in her knickers

Aine Leslie Davis Source: Central News

Aine Leslie Davis
Source: Central News

There’s a great deal of momentum being built towards an expansion of IS’ External Operations Division with more trained groups being deployed to Europe, Canada and the US in response to the success of the Paris attack. The reason for targeting France is simple, really: Team Baghdadi views France as being just as weak (if not weaker) than Spain, who capitulated to al-Qaida after the 2004 Madrid Train Bombing by completely pulling out of the Global War on Terror. Sure, France is currently conducting a bombing campaign in Syria – but all IS has to do is wait them out because they know that the French military can’t sustain a prolonged campaign. Our sources on the ground in Syria also report that the vaunted French air campaign hasn’t been as “effective” as advertised due to a lack of coordination and information-sharing between the French military and the forces fighting on the front-lines – mainly the combined Peshmerga forces (the Arab opposition factions are dominated by “moderates” who aren’t really “moderate”). In fact our YPG sources view the air campaign as more “symbolic” than anything. Its honestly too late for France and the rest of Europe to stem the tide now. Political correctness killed whatever chance they had to preserve their way of life. However, there’s still a chance for the US to reverse course, but that all depends on whether President Obama has the courage to admit that his pseudo-strategy isn’t working. Unfortunately, we suspect that’s asking for too much. And so it goes…

Paris attacks: French jets pound Islamic State in Raqqa as chaos and fear grips France’s capital after false reports of fresh gunfire – latest news

Source: Ben Garrison

Source: Ben Garrison

Other Related Articles:

Night of Terror: Jihadists Launch Coordinated Attacks Across Paris

The Loss of Key ISIS External OPs Figures and the Anwar al-Awlaqi Battalion

Attack in Paris, France Kills 12

Possible Second Lone Wolf Attack in France Since Saturday

Islamic State: The French Connection

The Jews: Europe’s Canary in the Mine on the Growing Jihadist Threat

Cultural Suicide: Why Allowing Syrian War Refugees to Enter Western Countries is a Pandora’s Box to More Attacks

ISIS Attack Plot Thwarted In Belgium- A Sign Of Things To Come?

Russian Intel: ISIS Has 80,000 Jihadis in Iraq and Syria


Breitbart, by Jordan Schachtel, Nov. 12,2015:

Russian intelligence reports are claiming that the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) terror group has amassed 80,000 soldiers in Iraq and Syria for its drive towards the goal of a global caliphate.

A senior Russian official told state-run TASS news agency that 30,000 ISIS jihadis are currently stationed in Iraq, and another 50,000 are fighting the jihad in Syria. Some 7,000 militants are originally from states that were formerly part of the Soviet Union, according to the report.

“According to reports, militants now control around 40 percent of Iraqi territory and 50 percent of Syrian territory,” said Yevgeny Sysoyev, the deputy leader of Russia’s FSB security services, which was formerly the infamous KGB during the soviet-era.

“Among members of the group are citizens of 80 countries, including France, Great Britain, Germany, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, the US, Canada, as well as Russia and other [Commonwealth of Independent States] countries. Among them are about 30,000 foreign terrorists. Most of them come from the Middle East and North Africa,” Sysoyev added from a conference in Sochi, Russia.

The estimates did not account for the members of ISIS affiliates throughout the region. The group now sustains terror cells of significant stature in Afghanistan, Yemen, Egypt, Libya, Nigeria, Gaza, and in other countries and territories.

Russian forces are engaged in a campaign to support Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad against all forces that oppose his rule, including ISIS. Russian air power has also heavily-targeted rebel areas where ISIS does not retain a significant presence. Moscow’s military has also worked side-by-side in Syria with forces from the Iranian regime and its proxy, the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah.

Russia denies that its forces have targeted groups besides ISIS. But the Pentagon has claimed that over 90% of Russian strikes in Syria have not targeted the Islamic State.

On late Tuesday, Assad-backed forces broke a two-year ISIS siege on Kwairis military airport, which is located near the hotly-contested city of Aleppo.

Assad’s troops killed “hundreds of ISIS terrorists and destroyed their dens and cells with all weapons inside,” Syria’s state-controlled SANA news reported.

“The regime has been fighting since the end of September to break the siege,” Rami Abdurrahman, who heads the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told CNN. “Taking this airport back from siege means they can advance to ISIS areas. They can use it to shell areas around Aleppo.”


Also see:

Joint Strategy with Russia?

usarus1The Gorka Briefing, by Dr. Sebastian Gorka, Nov. 9, 2015:

Sen. Feinstein thinks the US needs to have a joint strategy with Russia in dealing with ISIS. Is that a good idea? I discuss this on the Sam Sorbo radio show. (21 min)

gorka audio

Is it Iran’s Middle East Now?


The Middle East is currently in the midst of widespread instability, civil strife and the collapse or contraction of state authority. Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Turkey, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Tunisia and Egypt have all experienced major instability over the last half decade. The first four of these areas have effectively ceased to exist as unitary states, and are now partitioned de facto between warring entities, organised according to ethnic, sectarian or tribal loyalty. The Palestinian territories too are divided into areas controlled by the Islamist Hamas movement in Gaza and the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank.

In this fractious landscape, powerful regional states are seeking to gain advantage, extend their own power, and diminish that of their rivals.

The collapse of states has in turn brought with it the decline of the national identities which supposedly underlay them, and the growth of sectarian identification as a political factor. The result is the emergence of Sunni-Shia conflict as a major overt presence in the Middle East. In Yemen, in Iraq, in Lebanon, and in a more complex way in Syria, Sunni-Shia rivalries form a central dynamic, which are also important in terms of the geo-strategic rivalries among major states competing in the Middle East.

Perhaps the single best organised and most aggressive alliance active currently in the Middle East is the bloc of states and movements gathered around the Islamic Republic of Iran. Motivated by clear strategic goals and by powerful ideological motivations, and with long experience of subversion particularly relevant to the current period of instability in the Middle East, Iran and its allies are powerful players in the regional contest.

Prior to the conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran’s nuclear programme, signed on 14 July 2015, it had appeared that Iran might be approaching a point of overstretch. Tehran was committed to assist a large portfolio of clients engaged in conflict across the region, at a time when Tehran was itself subject to biting economic sanctions. The continued civil war in Syria and the opening of conflicts in Iraq and Yemen – in which the Iranians were heavily committed – seemed to introduce this possibility.

However, the conclusion of the nuclear agreement – and with it the prospect of release of impounded funds as part of sanctions relief – has immediate implications for the related subject of Iranian regional ambitions and outreach. The precise sum likely to become rapidly available to Iran following the signing of the agreement and sanctions relief remains unclear and disputed. Estimates range from $150 billion (the sum frequently quoted by opponents of the nuclear deal) to $56 billion (the likely sum according to US Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew).

But even if one assumes the lower estimate, and combines this with additional sums likely to become available to Iran because of renewed economic ties with the outside world as an element of sanctions relief, it may be concluded that the risk of overstretch, and a consequent inability on the part of Iran to sustain its regional commitments, has effectively disappeared as a result of the signing of the JCPOA.

As a result, Iran is well placed in the current period to continue its practice of supporting proxy political-military organisations in a variety of regional locations, in pursuit of Iranian strategic goals.


Iran is currently actively supporting proxies in major conflicts in the following areas: Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories. In addition, there is evidence that Iranian agencies are active among Shia populations – as yet without major effect – in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Tehran also has a strategic relationship with (Sunni majority) Sudan.

Iranian aims

Iran’s strategic goal is to emerge as the dominant power in the Middle East and, eventually, the entire Islamic world. It seeks to roll back US influence in the region and to work towards Israel’s destruction.



In all areas of Iranian regional ‘outreach’, a common pattern exists. Iranian regional policy is characterised by the establishment and/or sponsorship of proxy political-military organisations. In every case noted, (with the partial exception of Lebanon) the result of the Iranian involvement is not Iranian strategic victory and the constitution of the state in question as an ally of Iran. Rather, Iranian outreach prevents the defeat and eclipse of the local Iranian ally, while ensuring division and continued conflict in the area in question.

This Iranian modus operandi – and its centrality in Iranian regional strategy – as well as the far reaching nature of Iranian goals as outlined above, mean the notion that a post JCPOA Iran can form a partner for stability in the region is deeply flawed, and will quickly be contradicted by the facts.

The export of chaos has the merit, perhaps, of keeping disorder far from Iran’s own borders by ensuring that rivals to Tehran are kept busy engaged in proxy conflicts elsewhere. However, it is difficult to see how it can result in regional hegemony and leadership.

This Iranian penchant for fomenting chaos also places them on a different trajectory to the Russians. This is important, because the Russian intervention in the Syrian Civil War, from September 2015 has been characterised in some quarters as the birth of a new strategic alliance between Tehran and Moscow. Ibrahim Amin, editor of the pro-Hezbollahal-Akhbar newspaper, happily called this supposed new bloc the ‘4 + 1’ alliance (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Russia and Hezbollah).

But Russia has no interest in strategic support for Islamist proxies in the Middle East. Rather, it seeks powerful state allies, without particular concern as to their internal electoral arrangements or ideological proclivities. The Iranian model of creation and support of proxy Shia Islamist forces contrasts with Russia’s desire for powerful, centralised forces with which it can do business. This means that Russia and Iran have different and even opposed regional orientations, even if there is currently an overlap with regard to the Assad regime in Syria.

As a result of the JCPOA, Iran is likely to increase its support for its portfolio of proxy organisations across the region. The net effect of this will be to increase regional disorder and foment continued conflict. However, because of the built in limitations of Iranian methods and because of the sectarian nature of the conflicts in question (which means Iran finds it very difficult or impossible to pursue really lasting alliances with non-Shia Arab clients), it is unlikely that this will result in the attainment by Iran of its strategic goal of regional leadership/hegemony. Iran is a spoiler par excellence. But despite its ambitions and pretensions, it does not look like the founder of a new Middle Eastern order.

Read it all

Also see:

The high price the world could pay for Obama’s Syria, Iraq policy


Center for Security Policy, by Fred Fleitz, Nov. 9, 2015:

As I’ve discussed on Fox News.com before, President Obama’s Syria/Iraq policy is not a policy.  It is a non-policy to do as little as possible about the chaos in these countries so he can hand this mess to the next president.

The Obama administration has announced two major policy shifts in two years to deal with the Iraq/Syria crisis and the threat from ISIS.  Neither exhibited the decisive leadership that the world expects from the United States.  Both were reactive and piecemeal moves to counter multiple humiliations of America.

This has created a growing global perception of American weakness and indecisiveness that will embolden America’s enemies for the remainder of the Obama presidency and possibly beyond.

The first policy shift, announced in a speech by President Obama on September 10, 2014 in response to a series of ISIS beheadings, was supposed to “degrade and ultimately defeat” ISIS.  The president said this effort would include “a systematic campaign of airstrikes” in Iraq and Syria, training and equipping of moderate Syrian rebels, increased support to the Iraqi army and stepped up humanitarian assistance.

The failure of the September 2014 policy shift was obvious soon after it began.  Pinprick airstrikes in Syria did not stop ISIS from making gains on the ground.  In Iraq, ISIS took the city of Ramadi last May despite being outnumbered 10-1 by the Iraqi army.  The Iraqi army and the Iraqi Kurds clamored for more arms while the Obama administration sat on its hands.

Obama’s 2014 policy shift suffered a spectacular collapse this fall when a failed $500 million program to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels was cancelled and Russia intervened in Syria and began conducting airstrikes against anti-Assad rebels, many backed by the United States.  Iran also stepped up its presence in Syria by sending troops who are fighting to prop up the Assad government.

This rapid collapse of President Obama’s Syria/Iraq policy over the last few weeks has caused serious damage to American credibility.  Russian President Putin mocked and ignored President Obama as he sent Russian forces into Syria.  An intelligence sharing agreement was signed between Russia, Syria, Iraq and Iran.  Iraqi lawmakers even called on Russia to conduct airstrikes against ISIS positions in their country.

The Obama administration responded to these setbacks with a new policy shift that looks even worse than the last one.

The president is sending “fewer than 50” special operations troops to help advise an alliance of Syrian Arab rebels.  Given the lack of a clear policy and confusing rules of engagement, such a small deployment will be scoffed at by America’s adversaries and may be at risk of being captured.  On Monday, President Obama made the preposterous claim that this deployment is consistent with his pledge of “no boots on the ground” in Syria and Iraq because these troops will not be on the front lines fighting ISIS.

The New York Times reported on November 2 the Syrian Arab rebel alliance that U.S. special operations troops are supposed to be advising doesn’t yet exist and is dominated by Syrian Kurds who mostly want to carve out their own state and have little interest in fighting to take back Arab territory from ISIS.  Moreover, American military support of the Syrian Kurds worries Turkey because of their close ties with the PKK, a Kurdish terrorist group in Turkey.

The U.S. dropped 50 tons of weapons for the Arab alliance in late September.  Although U.S. officials initially said Syrian Arabs and not Syrian Kurds were the recipients of the airdrop, according to the New York Times, Syrian Kurdish fighters had to retrieve these weapons because the Arab units for which they were intended did not have the logistical capability to move them.

The Obama administration’s latest Iraq/Syria policy shift includes a renewed call for Assad to leave office and a new round of Syrian peace talks.

New U.S. demands that Assad step down make little sense due to increased Russian and Iranian support.

The first round of U.S.-brokered Syrian peace talks were held last week in Vienna.  17 nations participated, including, for the first time, Iran.  The talks produced a vague communique endorsing a future cease-fire, a transitional government, a new constitution and elections in which Syrians would select a new government.  However, it seems unlikely the Assad regime – which was excluded from the talks – or its Russian and Iranian backers will ever support free and fair elections.

Russia and Iran rejected a timeline proposed by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the peace talks under which Assad would step down in four to six months and national elections would be held in 18 months.  This puts a cease-fire out of reach since most Syrian rebels will not agree to a peace process that leaves Assad in power.

The Syria talks were overshadowed by the unwise decision by the Obama administration to include Iran because its presence legitimized its interference in Syria and Iraq.  This also made the talks tumultuous due to open feuding between Iranian and Saudi officials.  More talks are scheduled but Iranian officials have said they may not participate due to their differences with the Saudis.

So far, Mr. Obama has not agreed to Pentagon recommendations to back Iraqi forces with Apache helicopters or to allow U.S. military advisers to serve on the front lines with Iraqi forces.  These proposals are still reportedly under consideration.  Meanwhile, Republican congressmen continue to demand the Obama administration directly arm the Iraqi Kurds who are struggling to battle ISIS with inadequate and obsolete weapons.

America’s friends and allies know President Obama is pursuing a Syria/Iraq non-policy to run out the clock.  They know Mr. Obama’s initiatives are not serious policies but minor gestures that allow the president to be seen as doing something now while also enabling him to claim after he leaves office that he did not put U.S. boots on the ground in Iraq and Syria nor did he get America into another war.

Alliances in the Middle East are already shifting because of President Obama’s Syria/Iraq non-policy.  Russia is filling a power vacuum in the region and is building a new alliance with Iraq, Iran and Syria.  Russia has improved its relations with Egypt and Israel. Although the Saudis are working with the Obama administration to arm moderate Syrian rebel fighters, Riyadh is frustrated that the U.S. is considering compromise solutions which could leave Assad in power.  Saudi Arabia also reportedly is considering providing surface-to-air missiles to the Syrian rebels, a move the U.S. opposes since these missiles could fall into the hands of ISIS.

America’s enemies are certain to try to exploit the run-out-the-clock foreign policy that President Obama apparently plans to pursue for the remainder of his term in office.  This could mean a surge in global provocations, terrorism and violence from North Korea to the South China Sea to Afghanistan and to the Middle East due to the disappearance of American leadership over the next 15 months.

Remember that the weakness and incompetence of President Clinton’s foreign policy emboldened Al Qaeda to step up terrorist attacks against U.S troops and led Osama bin Laden to believe that the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks would drive the United States from the Middle East.  With Barack Obama dithering away America’s global credibility, a catastrophic terrorist attack like 9/11 could happen again.

Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Begins to Stall-What Now?

  • Putin Gives Assad mid-Nov. deadline for results with Aleppo offensive and that the Russian airstrikes weren’t “indefinite.”
  • Syrian Rebels gaining some ground and pro-Assad forces suffering supply shortages and taking casualties – most notably IRGC commander Hamedani causing low morale.
  • Lack of coordination and competition between IRGC-Qods Force, Hezbollah, SAA and Russian Army causing problems
  • In spite of ops in Ukraine and Syria causing logistical strain on Russia, no sign of opening another air base.
  • Russia’s plan to take Aleppo, forcing a negotiated settlement and then turning attention to hitting ISIS is not going well and the Sinai plane bombing has just made everything more complicated.
  • Russian propaganda aside, can you say “Quagmire”?

The ISIS Study Group, Nov. 7, 2015:

In late-OCT Syrian President Bashar al-Assad met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a surprise visit to Moscow. Although it was called a “working visit” and the Assad regime did confirm three meetings were held, most people in the international press were caught up with this being Assad’s first visit in a few years. However, something rather important occurred during this visit – Vlad put Assad on notice. Assad was informed by Vlad that he’s expecting results from the Aleppo offensive by mid-NOV since he has Russian military support. That’s mid-NOV as in starting next week. He also told Assad that the Russian airstrikes weren’t “indefinite.”

Syria’s Assad in surprise visit to Moscow

Source: ZB

Source: ZB

Indeed this is a bit of a departure from what Vlad told Prince Salman of Saudi Arabia (“No End in Sight in Fighting on the Arabian Peninsula Front”), but we see it as more of our favorite KGB officer beginning to feel a greater sense of urgency. Basil al-Asad Airbase is operating at full capacity and our sources in Syria have informed us that there are no plans to open up other airbases to expand Russia’s logistical footprint – which is going to come back to haunt them. The ongoing offensive in Aleppo that we discussed in “Pro-Assad Forces Experience Setbacks Despite Russian Military Intervention” has become the new priority for the pro-regime forces looking for a “big win.” The problem with this is it means resources and personnel involved in the operations occurring in Northwest Syria are being redirected. Despite the Russian military support and diverting of resources and personnel to the Aleppo front, the offensive has stalled.

No End in Sight in Fighting on the Arabian Peninsula Front

On Thursday the al-Qaida-flavored Jund al-Aqsa seized control of the Hama Province town of Morek. That town was the last SAA garrison along the main highway between Aleppo and Hama. This was a particularly important event since the anti-Assad factions now have control of a major line of communication from which reinforcements and supplies can be sent to support operations in Idlib and Aleppo. We’ve been covering this multi-pronged pro-regime offensive to retake Aleppo, Idlib, and Russia’s involvement in it from the start (“Russia Supports New Syrian Offensive and Begins Prepping For Russian Ground OPs” and “Pro-Assad Forces Experience Setbacks Despite Russian Military Intervention”). In those articles we discussed the first indicators of things not exactly going as well as Russian propagandists are spinning them out to be. Although its true that pro-regime forces retook multiple villages South of Aleppo, they sustained heavy losses in doing so.

Syria jihadists capture regime town along vital road

Russia Supports New Syrian Offensive and Begins Prepping For Russian Ground OPs

Pro-Assad Forces Experience Setbacks Despite Russian Military Intervention

BG Hamedani in his best pic yet Source: The ISIS Study Group

BG Hamedani in his best pic yet
Source: The ISIS Study Group

The IRGC continues to play a large role on the ground on the Aleppo front, although they haven’t been able to recover (yet) from the death of IRGC BG Hossein Hamedani (Reference – “Pro-Assad Forces Experience Setbacks Despite Russian Military Intervention”). The combined pro-regime forces were already having problems coordinating/prioritizing lines of effort, but BG Hamedani’s death made the situation worse. As of this writing the vast majority of the pro-regime forces are suffering from low-morale and supply shortages that are compounded by that failure to prioritize and coordinate operations – which is why the current Aleppo campaign is stalling. Such problems have watered down all the airstrikes and fire support, so it really shouldn’t surprise anybody that the ground forces are having a hard time seizing and holding territory.

A big indicator of these problems in coordination operations can be seen in the anti-Assad factions’ adapting to the Russian airstrikes that aren’t necessarily being reported up by the guys on the ground. The reason has more to do with personal pride and an overall pissing contest between the officers of the IRGC-Qods Force, Hezbollah, SAA and Russian Army. The establishment of joint-coordination centers have helped some, but thus far it appears to have been the most successful in better stream-lining logistical operations. The reason for the lackluster improvement has to do with the Russian military continuing to maintain their own C2 separate from the SAA, IRGC and Hezbollah. The Russians manage sorties and use embedded LNOs to process strike requests – which chews up a lot of time that the guys on the ground probably don’t have the luxury of wasting. As one would guess, this has only led to increased tensions between the Russians and the Qods Force – who don’t believe they need Vlad’s boys beat down the anti-Assad factions (Gee, that sure looks like a great opportunity for some IO messaging there, CENTCOM – HINT, HINT).

al-Nusra fighters in the Southern part of Aleppo Source: al-Nusra Media Office

al-Nusra fighters in the Southern part of Aleppo
Source: al-Nusra Media Office

The Islamic State (IS) had severed some of the primary supply lines (such as the Khanaser Road) linking support hubs to the Aleppo front. Although the Assad regime is trumpeting its “victory” in regaining control of the Khanaser Road, they had to reallocate units to reopen the line of communication (LOC) just to sustain the offensive. Unfortunately, that also meant losing considerable momentum in other, more critical areas on the front. Assad’s forces were stretched even further when they were forced to eject IS from an oilfield near Hama. Another issue the SAA is running into is the increasing reliance on militias such as the Liwa Abu Fadl al-Abbas (LAFA) as a result of manpower shortages. The problem with relying on the militias is that they’re very hit or miss. Not all of the militias are as capable as Hezbollah, Badr Organization, Kitaib Hezbollah (KH) or Asaib al-Haq (AAH). As a result, the Russian ground force mix of Spetsnaz and conventional troops are seeing more action. Most of their operations (the conventional guys anyways) are centered around convoy security in the Ghab Valley, although their Naval Infantry guys are conducting more small-unit operations at the company-level and lower. The Spetsnaz continue to due their counter-terror raids in conjunction with the Qods Force, although neither side appears to be particularly thrilled with having to “share” responsibilities. Those Russian ground troops have already sustained 10 KIA and another 24 WIA (again, a great opportunity for an IO campaign for the US to regain the initiative – assuming anybody in the Pentagon still has their balls).

Syrian Government Forces Regain Key Aleppo Supply Route

Syrian Regime Makes Gains For Aleppo Supply Lines, Uniting ISIS, Jabhat Al-Nusra, Syrian Rebels

Syrian army, allied Hezbollah militia expel ISIS from key oilfield near Hama

Hollow Victory: The pro-regime forces threw a great deal of time and personnel – their most precious resource – at retaking this piece of real estate Source: George Ourfalian (Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

Hollow Victory: The pro-regime forces threw a great deal of time and personnel – their most precious resource – at retaking this piece of real estate
Source: George Ourfalian (Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

The big problem Vlad is going to face if this war extends beyond 6 months (which we don’t see any end in the foreseeable future) is the strain on the Russian military’s logisitical capabilities. Sure, the talking heads in the media point to Russia’s vast numbers, but what they fail to realize is that Russia’s military is a conscript force – and one that doesn’t have the highest morale. They also overlook the fact that despite the Russian military’s size, they have a hard time providing logistical support to it on campaigns. Russia was beginning to struggle with providing support to the limited presence it has in Ukraine, so what do you think is going to happen in Syria, or Iraq for that matter (should they expand there)? The biggest sign of strain to Russia’s airlift capabilities will be felt in the ordnance-area, in a few months we’ll know why the airstrikes will begin to decline. This is why we find Russia’s decision not to open up another airbase to alleviate the strain placed on Basil al-Assad Airbase (which is currently operating at full capacity) so interesting. The implied task, therefore, would be to use more sealift transport. The problem with that is the Russian Naval base in Tartus may not have the infrastructure to expand that capability. Ultimately, this will lead to a lag in support operations.

So what’s next? With all the resources being thrown into this multi-pronged Syrian offensive with so little in results, Vlad is going to be forced to either invest even more in the regional war by expanding Russia’s military intervention, or lower the bar of what constitutes “success.” Vlad’s original plan was to push for a “big win” in Aleppo to use as a means of forcing the so-called “moderates” into a negotiated settlement on terms favorable to Assad. Once that happens, the combined pro-regime forces would turn their complete attention to IS. However, the bombing of a Russian airliner in Sinai changed all that (Check out “Sinai Plane Crash Update” and “Amplifying Details on the Sinai Plane Bombing and the Egypt-Libya Nexus” for more details). If anything, Vlad almost has to expand his military’s involvement in Syria if nothing else but to continue to push the narrative that he’s the “ironman” of the international community – and the “anti-Obama.” Thing is, by getting more involved in this regional war, Vlad will run the risk of falling into the same trap that his predecessors did in Afghanistan. Vlad may fill the leadership void left by the US government, but all its going to do is increase recruitment to Baghdadi’s cause. Jihadists may hate America, but they have a very special hatred for Russians. As much as the Rand Paul fanboys are excited about the possibility of somebody else carrying the load, region will become much more unstable because of it. This is going to affect both the West and the Russians. Keep in mind that although Russia prefers a more draconian strategy of laying waste to entire populations, that philosophy didn’t particularly work out in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Ingushtia or Dagestan. So welcome to the meat-grinder Vlad – sucks, don’t it?

Sinai Plane Crash Update

Amplifying Details on the Sinai Plane Bombing and the Egypt-Libya Nexus

Source: The ISIS Study Group

Source: The ISIS Study Group

Other Related Articles:

Vlad Uses Saudi Prince’s Thirst for Power to His Advantage Against US Influence

Islamic State Claims to Have Shot-Down Russian Plane in Sinai – But Did They?

Russia Providing Lethal Aid to Syria, Iran and Establishment of Intel Centers in Iraq

Russia Poised to Increase Military Presence in Middle East in Response to Islamic State’s Strength

Amplifying Details on the Sinai Plane Bombing and the Egypt-Libya Nexus

Source: Associated Free Press/Getty Images (Maxim Grigoryev)

Source: Associated Free Press/Getty Images (Maxim Grigoryev)

The ISIS Study Group, Nov. 7, 2015:

The last few days have been filled with a flurry of information regarding the downing of Flight 7K9268. Within the last 18 hrs we’ve received amplifying information from our sources in the country. Our sources within the Egyptian Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) confirmed that Russian investigators found the remnants of the explosive device we were talking about in our 03 NOV “Sinai Plane Crash Update.” Furthermore, the running theory of those investigators is that depressurization caused by an internal explosion tore off the tail section, causing the plane to flip over and send it to the ground. When we asked one of our sources if 500 grams of C4 could cause that, he answered back that it wouldn’t take much to bring a plane down, especially if the device was placed near the fuel line – which is what DMI assesses to be the case. Another source working with Russia’s Health Ministry Center for Forensic Medical Expertise confirmed that parts of an explosive device was uncovered.

As for the operative who emplaced the device on the plane, we’ve confirmed that the individual did not receive any assistance from a member of the security forces – because he’s a member of the security forces himself. The individual in question used his position to circumvent the 8 explosive detection systems and security checkpoints located at the airport in order to get to his target. DMI knew how this went down fairly quickly, although our sources couldn’t answer how this fell through the cracks, although they did imply that the security forces are plagued with serious internal issues due to the rising insider threat. However, Sharm al-Sheik Airport Chief Abdel-Wahab Ali was removed from his position due to these major security lapses. The fact that the British government aired these very same concerns LAST YEAR made the decision to remove him much easier.

The Latest: Sharm El-Sheikh Airport Chief Has Been Replaced

UK had concerns about Sharm el-Sheikh airport security almost a year ago

Sinai Plane Crash Update

Islamic State-Sinai (IS-Sinai) aka “Wilayat Sinai (WS)”: Just entered the next stage of Operations Source: The ISIS Study Group

Islamic State-Sinai (IS-Sinai) aka “Wilayat Sinai (WS)”: Just entered the next stage of Operations
Source: The ISIS Study Group

Adding further weight to what we’ve been saying is that the Black Box reveals that the crash was not an accident. More importantly, the media (and some Western governments) are saying what we first mentioned in our “Sinai Plane Crash Update.” Excerpt:

European investigators who analyzed the two flight recorders from the Metrojet plane that went down last weekend in Egypt are categorically saying the crash is not an accident, CNN affiliate France 2 reported Friday.

The investigators said the cockpit voice recorder of Metrojet Flight 9268 shows an explosion and the flight data recorder confirms the explosion is not accidental — there is no sign of mechanical malfunction during the initial part of the flight, France 2 reported.

Everything is fine during the first 24 minutes, then in a fraction of a second there is a blackout and no more cockpit conversation, convincing investigators there was a bomb on board, according to France 2.

CNN Aviation Analyst Richard Quest said there would have been different data on the black boxes if there was a catastrophic failure than if there was an explosion. The key is what happened just before the data suddenly stops, he said.

“It’s this split second, and it’s a millisecond, where you hear an explosion of some description,” he said. “And you see all the parameters (on the recorders) go haywire before the power is completely lost. If this report is accurate, (investigators) have now analyzed that … heard it and they can identify it.”

If the plane had broken apart due to structural failure, there would have been more noise — and for a longer time, he said.

France’s air accident investigation agency, the BEA, told CNN that Egyptian officials will make an announcement about the crash investigation within the next 24 hours.

Report: Black boxes show bomb brought down Russian jet

Media now talking about the bomb being placed in the cargo hold among the luggage near the fuel line Source: CNN

Media now talking about the bomb being placed in the cargo hold among the luggage near the fuel line
Source: CNN

This wasn’t the first time WS gained access to an Egyptian airport either. Last year they recruited an employee at Cairo International Airport who provided Team Baghdadi with schematics of the facility, locations of guard postings and security procedures. Fortunately, DMI found out and arrested him before the attack plan was set into motion – which was the same plan carried out in Sharm al-Sheik. This was one of a long list of incidents – many of which were never reported by the country’s media outlets – that led to GEN Sisi authorizing the DMI to lead the crackdown on the insider threat within the security forces. From MAY 15 – JUL 15 several junior and mid-level officers within the Army were detained for either being sympathizers or full-fledged members of WS. There’s also been an increase in military personnel refusing to carry out missions against WS – not because they’re “scared” – because they “didn’t want to kill their Muslim Brothers” (which is a red flag since most Muslims would never consider IS as their “Muslim Brothers”). For the most part the military has been the main advocate for moderate Islam and secularism. Unfortunately, that all changed when the Muslim Brotherhood’s Muhammad Morsi rose to power, where he quickly began to sack “problematic” (read-those of moderate Islam or secular leanings) officers. Then he began to fill the ranks with those he reflected his values – in other words, guys with extremist views. The result was a new breed of officers in the junior and mid-level ranks who were very sympathetic to the ideologies of al-Qaida (of which the MB is closely-aligned) and IS. WS’ increase in capability is a good indicator of the success they’ve had in recruiting personnel with formal military experience (Check out “ISIS-Sinai Beheads Croatian Hostage – Just the Beginning” for additional info).

ISIS-Sinai Beheads Croatian Hostage – Just the Beginning

Egypt’s insider threat: Morsi’s legacy Source: Sharif Abdel Minoem (Associated Press)

Egypt’s insider threat: Morsi’s legacy
Source: Sharif Abdel Minoem (Associated Press)

The bombing of that Russian airliner is the beginning of WS and IS’ Libya affiliate entering into a new phase of Team Baghdadi’s overall global campaign of conducting high-profile attacks outside of Syria and Iraq. WS followed up the plane bombing with another attack targeting an officer’s club that killed three policemen. But that’s just the start – WS fully intends to expand their operations to targeting Russians and Western tourists to both cripple Egypt’s tourism industry (which would result in significant economic damage) and retaliating for Russia’s Syria intervention. The indicators were all there with the sharp increase in the frequency and scale of attacks carried out by WS in Sinai throughout the year and this past summer in particular (Reference – “Sinai Under Siege Rising capabilities of Wilayat Sinai”). That said, the first real indicators of WS’ increased capabilities was seen as early as JAN 14 when they shot down an Egyptian military helicopter in the Sinai with a MANPAD that was traced back to one of the Qaddafi regime weapons depots that was raided by so-called “moderates” during the early days of the “Arab Spring.” In AUG 15 another attempt was made by WS to bring down an aircraft – this time a Thomson Airways airliner – as it was heading to Sharm al-Sheik Airport. Fortunately the pilot was able to perform evasive maneuvers and avoid being brought down (See the Guardian’s article titled, “Sharm el-Sheikh flight from Stansted dodged missile in August” and our initial piece on the Sinai crash, “Islamic State Claims to Have Shot-Down Russian Plane in Sinai – But Did They?”).

Egypt: 3 police officers killed in North Sinai bombing

Militants Down Egyptian Helicopter, Killing 5 Soldiers

Sharm el-Sheikh flight from Stansted dodged missile in August

Sinai Under Siege Rising capabilities of Wilayat Sinai (WS)

Islamic State Claims to Have Shot-Down Russian Plane in Sinai – But Did They?

This is just a quick snapshot of attacks that occurred in JUL 15 Source: The ISIS Study Group

This is just a quick snapshot of attacks that occurred in JUL 15
Source: The ISIS Study Group

WS also wanted to show Baghdadi that they’re an effective force capable of achieving the objectives of his external operations campaign, but also to justify that their request for additional funding. This was also a bid for obtaining heavier weaponry from IS’ Libya affiliate, who sends weapons and supplies to Syria – some of which goes through Sinai (Check out “The Strategic Importance of Egypt to ISIS,” “2015: The Year of ISIS Expansion From Gaza to North Africa” and “The ISIS Expansion Into North Africa” for more details). We don’t think Libyan IS Emir Abu Nail will satisfy that request until after he seizes Darnah – which IS was driven out of back in JUN 15. As of this writing, IS-Libya has been busy consolidating its forces in the al-Fatayeh-area located Southeast of the city. That area is the likely staging-area from which the offensive to retake the town will be launched. The Libyan affiliate is facing a tough fight as they’re forced to take on several other opposition groups of varying jihadist flavors as well as the forces of the Egypt-back Libyan GEN Khalifa Haftar.

For the third time, Haftar’s forces fail to control Derna

Isis in Libya: Islamic State driven out of Derna stronghold by al-Qaeda-linked militia

ISIS responsible for most Libya killings: ICC prosecutor

ISIS In Libya? Gadhafi Sirte Residence Searched By Islamic State For Hidden Money: Report

Warplanes bomb Libya’s Sirte, target Islamic State: witness

The Strategic Importance of Egypt to ISIS

2015: The Year of ISIS Expansion From Gaza to North Africa

The ISIS Expansion Into North Africa…

IS’ Libya affiliate is the terror organization’s most-developed branch and has become a critical part of Baghdadi’s vision of being able to project power outside of Syria/Iraq. Its worth noting that the Libya affiliate has been tasked with providing material support to other affiliates in North Africa in addition to WS and the main effort in Syria. WS actually receives a great deal of their financial support from the Libya affiliate. In fact so much influence has been placed on bolstering the Libya affiliate that some foreign fighters have actually been diverted there. Our sources report the presence of fighters from France, Germany, Egypt, Algeria, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Canada and one unconfirmed report of Americans serving among the ranks. Recent reporting also suggests that a group of Indonesian jihadists are projected to be entering the country for this same purpose – other sources imply that they may have already arrived. Not only is Libya an alternative for foreign fighters who aspire to wage jihad but can’t make the trip to Syria, its a training ground for select personnel who get sent back to their countries of origin to establish their own attack networks and conduct the cell-based external operations that the IS leadership has been transitioning to over the last few months (For more info on this transition to cell-based external OPs, check out “Neil Prakash and Friends – an Update” and “Nail in the Coffin: ISIS’ Anwar al-Awlaqi BN Sends Fighters to Europe”). Think of it as IS’ way of “diversifying their terror portfolio” for their goal of launching such attacks in the West.

Neil Prakash and Friends – an Update

The Loss of Key ISIS External OPs Figures and the Anwar al-Awlaqi Battalion

Nail in the Coffin: ISIS’ Anwar al-Awlaqi BN Sends Fighters to Europe

With all this happening, what’s next for Vlad? Make no mistake, he’s going to respond – and when he does, people are either going to die or “disappear.” The big mistake the IS mothership in Syria and the Sinai affiliate made is thinking that Vlad is as soft and flaccid as President Obama. They’re going to find out real quick just how big of a mistake they made once he expands his intervention in Syria (although there will be challenges-more on that in another article) followed by enhanced collaboration with the Sisi regime – which has been steadily moving away from America and getting closer to Russia for well over a year (Check out “Egypt Atmospherics” for more details). On the flip side we assess that IS’ Caucasus affiliate (made up mostly of remnants of Imarat Kavkaz or “IK”) are going to become very active in launching attacks inside Russia itself. Although the media seized on the fact that Syria is one of Vlad’s client states, what didn’t get any real coverage are the 2,500-3,000 Russian nationals currently fighting under the IS banner in Syria – many of which are of Chechen/Dagestani/Tajik ethnicity (Reference the following for additional info – “Russia Poised to Increase Military Presence in Middle East in Response to Islamic State’s Strength,” “Islamic State’s Expansion into the Caucasus Region,” “Gulmurod Khalimov Update – His Militant Views May Not Be a Recent Development” and “Introducing Tajik Special Police COL Gulmurod Khalimov: Islamic State Defector”). At some point those foreign fighters are going to return to Mother Russia. A few already have. So if you thought this high-profile attack was an “isolated incident” that only affects Egypt, you thought wrong.

Egypt Atmospherics…

Russia Poised to Increase Military Presence in Middle East in Response to Islamic State’s Strength

Islamic State’s Expansion into the Caucasus Region

Gulmurod Khalimov Update – His Militant Views May Not Be a Recent Development

Introducing Tajik Special Police COL Gulmurod Khalimov: Islamic State Defector

Egyptian locals are increasingly “Pro-Vlad” – but aren’t big fans of President Obama Source: The ISIS Study Group

Egyptian locals are increasingly “Pro-Vlad” – but aren’t big fans of President Obama
Source: The ISIS Study Group

Other Related Articles:

Haftar-Sisi Alliance: The Roadblock to ISIS Bridge Into the Maghreb

Egypt Strikes ISIS Positions in Libya: Moderate Muslims Rise Up Against Terror

Egypt and UAE Launch Airstrikes in Libya – US Kept in the Dark

Is Egypt Planning Military Intervention in Libya?

Jordan Steps Up Airstrikes Against ISIS, Egypt Launches New Sinai Offensive

Egyptian Army and IDF Take On ISIS Supporters in Sinai

Egyptian Army Hits Back At ISIS In Sinai

ISIS Plots to Bring the “Flames of War” to US, UK and Australia

Obama’s War Advisors Turn on Him

Image by © Susan Walsh/AP/Corbis

Image by © Susan Walsh/AP/Corbis

Commentary, by Noah Rothman, Nov. 5, 2015:

Barack Obama remains a fortunate president, insofar as the press is still invested in his success. Or, at least, in muting outrage over his failures. Any other American president who, while prosecuting an unpopular war, saw a series of critical national security advisors resign would probably generate some rather unfavorable coverage.

On September 22, Barack Obama’s hand-selected advisor coordinating global efforts to combat the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, retired General John Allen, announced his intention to resign the post. Within a week, Evelyn Farkas, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia, also handed in her resignation. Given the ongoing wars in Europe and the Middle East into which the West is increasingly committing resources, these resignations are alarming.

In general, the flight of Obama’s war advisors from his administration went unnoticed by all but the keenest of observers. Both Allen and Farkas have determined, however, to make it difficult for the public to ignore their warnings. As both these advisors head for the exits, they and others are seeking exculpation for the increasing tensions and accelerating failures in their respective theaters of operations. What’s more, they are shifting blame toward the White House.

“ISIS is losing,” Allen insisted in July. Weeks later, as new cities fell to the terrorist organization and amid a scandal involving falsified intelligence designed to create the impression for the president that a losing war was being won, Allen’s assurances seemed utterly unfounded. He insists that his resignation was prompted by his wife’s ailing health. She suffers from an auto-immune disease, and there is no reason to doubt General Allen’s sincerity. His resignation came, however, amid news that Barack Obama’s approach to the Syrian crisis – the training and equipping of indigenous rebel groups – had utterly failed. Within weeks, the White House reluctantly agreed to insert U.S Special Forces into the Syrian theater. Allen’s resignation also coincided with Russian and Iranian military intervention into the Syrian war, reshaping that conflict from a Middle Eastern competition into a global proxy conflict.

Furthermore, Bloomberg reported that Allen unsuccessfully sought to convince the White House earlier in his tenure to insert tactical air control teams on the ground in Iraq to more accurately select targets. “Allen also tried several times to convince the White House to agree to Turkish demands for a civilian protection zone in Syria, to no avail,” that report read. As he prepares to surrender his role, Allen is spending more time worrying about the Russians than ISIS. “One had hoped that the Russians would bear down on Daesh as they said they would and publicly commit themselves to transition away from Assad,” Allen told the New York Times. “None of those things happened.” In testimony before Congress, Allen warned that the crisis Russia precipitated in Syria will only force more refugees to pour into Turkey, Greece, and ultimately into the West, intensifying the political crisis on the continent. Which brings us to Europe.

 “We need more high-level attention being paid to the countries that feel directly threatened by Russia,” Farkas told reporters as she, too, heads for the exits. Like Allen, the point person for the Pentagon on matters related to the new war sparked by Russia’s invasion of southern Ukraine insisted that her resignation was not prompted by policy differences with the White House, but she then went on to outline a number of them.

Farkas said that she unsuccessfully pushed the administration to approve “lethal, defensive assistance to Ukraine, primarily anti-tank weapons.” But lethal aid never came for Ukrainian resistance fighters. When training and material finally began pouring into the country, it was too late to reverse the facts on the ground.

Farkas’ assessment of what the future holds for Europe was a bleak one. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he tried to counter-balance us elsewhere,” she said, even to the point of noting that an emboldened Vladimir Putin might soon feel obliged to “test NATO.” In a final parting shot at the president, Farkas observed that Barack Obama’s reliance on an ever-tightening network of financial sanctions designed compel Putin to change his behavior has failed. “I do think that we need to, unfortunately, do a better job of really understanding what Russia and the Kremlin’s interests are,” she said. “They have, thus far, prioritized their security interests over their economic interests.”

The picture being painted by Obama’s soon-to-be-former advisors is one of a president paralyzed with indecision. He is being increasingly tested by the world’s bad actors and revisionist powers and has little resolve to act early and decisively. That is an impression that was confirmed by Reuters in October. They reported that the president was similarly incapacitated by the People’s Republic of China’s brazen decision to create new islands that would function as naval and air bases in the middle of the contested Spratly Islands late last year.

As early as May, well before those island bases were completed, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter requested the Pentagon draw up options to respond to this challenge to American global maritime dominance. According to the Pentagon officials who spoke with Reuters anonymously, Obama invited an “intense, prolonged” and “unnecessary” internal debate over how to respond to this provocation, and only reluctantly agreed in October to dispatch one destroyer to sail within 12 nautical miles of one of Beijing’s new island bases.

“The Pentagon and U.S. military officials had been ready for months to carry out patrols, but ran into ‘repeated stalling’ from the White House and State Department, said one U.S. defense official, who requested anonymity,” Reuters reported.

As the fruits of Barack Obama’s feckless approach to foreign affairs ripen, and the conflicts that he sought to resolve only deteriorate, the president’s advisors are increasingly training their fire on him. In the final year of this administration, that trend is only likely to intensify. If the Obama era is going to be remembered as the period when the seeds of chaos and conflict were sown, surely more creatures of Washington are going to emerge to make sure that they do not take the blame for sowing them. A president who has so perfected the art of throwing others under the bus is about to get the same treatment.

Also see:

New Report Details Iranian Commander’s Involvement in Terrorist Activity and Regional Expansion

sulaymani-500x295by IPT News  •  Nov 4, 2015:

The commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) Quds Force– Qassem Soleimani – continues to remain actively involved in promoting the Islamic Republic’s regional expansion and terrorist networks, according to an extensive report compiled by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.

Click here to see the full report.

As the head of the Quds Force – the most powerful security organization in Iran –Soleimani is directly tasked with maintaining the fundamentalist regime in power and is responsible for exploiting Arab World turmoil in recent years to advance Iran’s regional hegemonic objectives. From September 2015, Iran increased its number of troops – mainly IRGC soldiers – in Syria from hundreds to thousands, to support Hizballah terrorists acting at Iran’s behest in propping up the Bashaar Assad regime.

In October 2015, Soleimani reportedly landed in northwestern Syria to brief Hizballah operatives and command a Syrian military offensive, indicating that Iran is diverting more resources from its presence in Iraq to Syria.

Despite Iran’s commitment to Syria, the Islamic Republic is actively establishing terrorist networks in the Golan Heights – using Hizballah, Druze, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) operatives – to target Israel.

Emphasizing growing concern over Iranian terror bases on the Jewish state’s borders, Israel allegedly conducted an airstrike targeting a convoy of Hizballah and Iranian operatives in January 2015, killing Jihad Mughniyeh – son of slain Hizballah leader Imad Mughinyeh – and a senior IRGC general in the Golan Heights.

In August 2015, PIJ terrorists, reportedly under Iran’s direction, fired four rockets at Israeli territory, signalling the first missile attack striking the Upper Galilee from the Syrian Golan Heights since the 1973 Yom Kippur War. In fact, since the 1990s, the Quds Force has invested significant resources in supporting Palestinian terrorist organizations, smuggling weapons into the West Bank and Gaza, and ordering attacks against Israel.

Since the end of 2006 war in Lebanon, the Quds Force also played a vital role in rebuilding Hizballah’s terrorist infrastructure, helping the terrorist organization amass an arsenal of over 100,000 rockets, including precision guided missiles that can strike any target in Israel. Iran’s continued support to Hezbollah also includes sophisticated air defense systems and anti-ship missiles.

The Israeli report assumes that the Quds Force directly oversees the ongoing transfer of advanced weapons from Iran through Syria to Lebanon, despite the Islamic Republic’s overwhelming commitment to ensure Assad’s survival amid an intensifying civil war.

Iran has also attempted to infiltrate intelligence agents into Israel. In September 2013, Ali Mansouri – under direction from the Quds Force – was detained at Ben Gurion International Airport and found to be in possession of pictures of important sites in Israel, such as its international airport and the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv.

In the past, Soleimani’s Quds Force was responsible for financing most of the Iraqi Shi’ite militias and providing them with weapons to specifically target American soldiers. With Hizballah’s assistance, the Quds Force supplied terrorists with powerful explosive devices that killed numerous American and coalition troops in Iraq.

After Iran and the West signed the nuclear agreement, Soleimani and the Quds Force were featured on a list of Iranian personnel and institutions that may be relieved of previously imposed international sanctions. Despite initial denials, the U.S. administration confirmed that Soleimani’s name would be removed from the list of UN Security Council sanctioned individuals, eight years following the nuclear deal’s signing. Adding to the confusion, the U.S. Treasury Department insisted that Soleimani will remain sanctioned in light of his ongoing involvement in terrorist activity.

Nevertheless, the Iranian commander’s recent trip to Russia to coordinate both countries efforts in Syria emphasizes the difficulty in enforcing personal sanctions.

Critics of the nuclear deal argue that ensuing sanctions relief will encourage Iran to enhance its regional expansion and global state sponsorship of terrorism.

Patriarch of Antioch: Muslims Want to Conquer Europe with ‘Faith and the Birthrate’



Breitbart, by Thomas D. Williams, Nov. 6, 2015:

In a stunning interview, the Maronite patriarch of Antioch, Cardinal Bechara Boutros al-Rahi, has contended that Islam has a clear, two-pronged strategy to take over Europe: religion and procreation.

The cardinal said that Muslims look on Christians as weak and believe that since they have no children and barely practice their faith, Islam will easily conquer them. Sadly, he said, Muslims take their faith more seriously than most Christians, and they are gaining ground because of it.

“I have often heard from Muslims that their goal is to conquer Europe with two weapons: their faith and their birthrate,” al-Rahi said in a recent interview with Famiglia Cristiana, an Italian Catholic weekly magazine.

For the Muslims, the Cardinal said, “the practice of the faith is essential and fundamental. In Saudi Arabia they go to Friday prayers even if they need a walking stick. They know the Koran by heart, and when they talk they often cite it. The same is not true for Christians who do not refer either to the Bible or the teachings of the Church.”

The Muslims “believe that God’s will is to procreate and that marriage is aimed at this,” he said. “They think that numbers will give them the upper hand.”

Christians, however, “hardly get married anymore, and have few children,” he said.

The Cardinal also said that Muslims “identify anything that comes from the West as Christian per se. All Western politics is Christian politics, it is a new crusade. They say that Christians are the remains of the Crusades and of Western imperialism,” he said.

At the same time, al-Rahi sharply criticized the EU’s ineffective solutions to Europe’s migration crisis, arguing that the only way to end the chaos is by stopping the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

The 75-year-old cardinal is the Maronite Patriarch of the ancient city of Antioch, where Christianity has deep and millennial roots. He said that the ongoing conflict provoked by the Islamic State is forcing both Christians and moderate Muslims to emigrate from the Holy Land, so before all else, attention must be given to putting an end to the siege.

It is useless for Europe to quarrel over the reception of refugees without addressing the root cause of emigration from the Middle East, which is armed conflict, he said.

“The first thing to do to protect Christians in the Middle East is to end the war in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Palestine,” the Cardinal said. “European states quarrel with each other about the number of refugees to be admitted but do nothing to end the conflict.”

“The Middle East is emptying and leaving the field open to fundamentalist and terrorist organizations,” al-Rahi said. For some reason, he said, “States do not talk about it, the only one making appeals is Pope Francis.”

“Europe is talking about the reception of refugees, those who would like ten thousand and another who will take three thousand people, but this does not help us,” he said. “Europe should focus on the cause of migration, namely the war. You have to turn off the tap and ensure that Muslims and Christians will return to their lands.”

“A Middle East without Christians,” the Cardinal continued, “has no identity.”

“This is the place of all divine revelation. It is where Jesus took flesh, died and rose again. It is where the Church was born and began to proclaim the Gospel to the world,” he said.

Al-Rahi also noted that Christians resent being called a “minority” in the Middle East. We have been here for two thousand years, he said, “six hundred years before the arrival of Islam.”

“Just as Europe discusses how to preserve its identity, it is urgent that we do the same,” he said.

Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome

The US Didn’t Create ISIS — Assad and Saddam Did

basharalassadonline-newsit2_1Frontpage, by Daniel Greenfield, Nov. 4, 2015:

The Russia-Iran-Assad axis and its useful idiots in the West claim that the United States created ISIS. Some of the loonier conspiracy sites that gleefully repost Russian propaganda allege that the Caliph of ISIS is a Jewish Mossad agent named Elliot Shimon or a CIA agent named Simon Elliot.

Elliot doesn’t exist, but ISIS’ Deputy Caliph Abu Ali al-Anbari, who was Saddam’s major general and a Baathist member, does. The Caliph’s right hand man, Abu Muslim al Turkmani, was also a Baathist and a lieutenant colonel in Saddam’s military intelligence organization before being killed by a drone strike.

Considering the history between Saddam and the USSR, it is likely that one or both of the Caliph’s deputies received training from Russian intelligence advisers during their careers. Turkmani’s DGMI in particular was closely entangled with the KGB. One of the reasons ISIS is much better than its Sunni Islamist opponents is that its top people had been trained by Soviet experts.

The ISIS blowback doesn’t lead to America, but in a completely different direction.

Before the Islamic State’s current incarnation, it was Al Qaeda in Iraq and its pipeline of suicide bombers ran through Syria with the cooperation of Assad’s government.

Assad and Al Qaeda in Iraq had a common enemy; the United States. Assad had a plan to kill two birds with one stone. Syrian Islamists, who might cause trouble at home, were instead pointed at Iraq. Al Qaeda got manpower and Assad disposed of Sunni Jihadists who might cause him trouble.

Meanwhile Al Qaeda openly operated out of Syria in alliance with the Baathists. While Syria’s regime was Shiite and Iraq’s Sunni, both governments were headed by Baathists.

The Al Nusrah Front, the current incarnation of Al Qaeda in the area ever since the terror group began feuding with ISIS, named one of its training camps, the ‘Abu Ghadiya Camp”. Abu Ghadiya had been chosen by Zarqawi, the former leader of the organization today known as ISIS, to move terroriststhrough Syria. This highway of terror killed more American soldiers than Saddam Hussein had.

The Al Qaeda presence in Syria was backed by Assad’s brother-in-lawAssef Shawkat, who had served as Director of Military Intelligence and Deputy Defense Minister.  His real job though was coordinating Islamic terrorist organizations. During the Iraq War, he added Al Qaeda to his portfolio.

Handling terrorists without being burned is a tricky business though and the blowback kicked in.

In 2008, a US raid into Syria finally took out Abu Ghadiya and some of his top people. A year later, General Petraeus warned that, “In time, these fighters will turn on their Syrian hosts and begin conducting attacks against Bashar al-Asad’s regime itself.”

Shawkat was killed by a suicide bomber three years later. Assad’s support for terrorists had hit home. Those Sunni Islamists he had sent on to Iraq who survived returned with training and skills that made them a grave danger to his regime.

Exactly as Petraeus had predicted.

Anti-American Leftists who claim that the US created ISIS were cheering on its early terror attacks as the work of a Baathist “Resistance”. ISIS these days is accompanied by top Baathists including General al-Douri, a close Saddam ally. The same outlets claiming that we created ISIS celebrated the “Resistance” campaign against NATO “neo-colonialism” when what they were really celebrating was ISIS.

Putin’s regime has claimed that it is fighting ISIS, but it was supporting Assad back when Syria was a conduit for ISIS to attack Americans. The Baathists in Syria and Iraq had both been Soviet clients and it was the USSR which turned international terrorism into a high art.

The United States has gotten plenty of the blame for supporting Mujahedeen in Afghanistan against the USSR, but the USSR had started the practice much earlier and had signed on to the Red-Green alliance. As Primakov, a top Soviet leader and KGB figure closely involved with the Muslim world, had said, the “Islamic movement” has a “radical trend which is strongly charged with anti-imperialism.”

It’s no coincidence that ISIS has thrived best in countries that were former Soviet clients whose governments attempted to fit Primakov’s definition by walking a fine line between Socialism and Islam. Nor is it a coincidence that in addition to its beheadings and sex slavery, ISIS plays up its free medicalcare and price controls. ISIS is still offering Socialism and Islam with a bigger emphasis on Islam.

While Baathism is often described as secular, it actually sought to blend Islam with its politics. It was a leftist Islamism that emphasized Socialism in contrast to the rightist Islamism of the Muslim Brotherhood whose leaders were often businessmen and landowners with a more capitalistic bent.

These distinctions, which led the USSR to build ties with the Baathists while Western countries got involved with the Muslim Brotherhood, were more style than substance. The preference of the Muslim Brotherhood or the Turkish AKP for crony capitalism as the next best thing to a lost former feudalism did not make them friendly to the West. And the Baathists were tribal dictators who cloaked their clannish authoritarianism and familial feuds in a blend of hollow Socialist and Islamic platitudes.

Critics claim that there would be no ISIS if Saddam were still in power, but the Iraqi dictator helped create ISIS through his alliances with Islamists. ISIS did not suddenly rise out of the ruins of his regime. Instead it grew within Saddam’s regime as the dictator responded to his setbacks against Iran and Saudi Arabia, two Islamist states, by reinventing Iraq and Baathism as explicitly Islamist entities.

During the Iran-Iraq War, Saddam had begun building ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, hoping to bridge the old split between Baathists and Brotherhood and meet Shiite Islamism with Sunni Islamism.

After the Gulf War, Saddam Hussein went in a blatantly Islamist direction. The man in charge of his “Return to Faith” campaign was General Al-Douri, who would be the key ally that Al Qaeda used to move its people through Syria and who would live long enough to fight alongside ISIS as it retook Tikrit.

Allah Akbar was added to the Iraqi flag and Islamic education was embedded into the system from elementary schools to Islamic universities. It is likely that the Caliph of ISIS owes his own Islamic education to Saddam’s newfound interest in the Koran.

By the mid 90s, Saddam endorsed a Caliphate and implemented Sharia punishments such as chopping off the hands of thieves.  When ISIS amputates hands, it’s just restoring one of Saddam’s Sharia policies.

Everyone knows about Saddam’s palaces, but fewer know about his campaign to build the world’s biggest mosques. One of the biggest of these had a Koran written in Saddam’s own blood. This mosque would become a major center for ISIS allied operations run by a Muslim Brotherhood organization.

The Caliph of ISIS was recruited into the Muslim Brotherhood by his uncle. And like so many Jihadist leaders, he moved on to Al Qaeda. His own Baathist-Islamist background made him the perfect man to take Saddam’s vision of a Pan-Islamic state with Sharia and Socialism for all to the next level.

Saddam’s outreach to the Muslim Brotherhood helped create ISIS, just as Assad’s backing for Al Qaeda did and much as Gaddafi’s LIFG deal with the Brotherhood paved the way for his own overthrow.

Barzan, Saddam’s brother and the leader of his secret police, had warned him that his alliance with Islamists would lead to the overthrow of his regime. And that is what likely would have happened. American intervention changed the timetable, but not the outcome.

ISIS is a Baathist-Islamist hybrid that devours its creators, turning on Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, and at times even threatening its Baathist allies. Its hybrid of Socialism and an Islam so medieval and brutal that it even frightens Al Qaeda and the Brotherhood has its roots in Saddam’s Iraq. Televising new and more extreme tortures was a tactic that was more Saddam than Osama.

Even ISIS’ most revolutionary step, declaring its leader the Caliph, echoes Saddam’s effort to don the vestiges of the Abbasid Caliphate by linking himself to Caliph Al-Mansur. The difference between Saddam and ISIS is that it is willing to follow through on the symbolism.

For Saddam, Islam was a means. For ISIS it is an end. ISIS is Saddam’s Islamized Iraq without Saddam. It uses Saddam’s tactics and infrastructure for purely Islamic ends.

ISIS is blowback, but not against America. It’s the outcome of two Russian client states that climbed into bed with terrorists only to see the terrorists take over their countries. Saddam and Assad were both warned about the consequences of their alliance with Islamists.

Saddam aided the Muslim Brotherhood in trying to topple Assad’s father, yet learned no lessons from it. Assad aided the Al Qaeda attacks on Americans, but didn’t consider what would happen when Al Qaeda turned its attention to him. Both regimes sowed the Islamist seeds of their own destruction and made inevitable their transformation into Islamic terror states.